All You Vegans Eat Is Chili!

Have you ever been to a vegan potluck? Let me rephrase that-- have you ever been to any  potluck? And you were the only vegan there and bro...

Have you ever been to a vegan potluck? Let me rephrase that-- have you ever been to any potluck? And you were the only vegan there and brought chili, right? Maybe there were two vegans... but maybe your aunt made the chili to make sure you had at least one thing to eat from the buffet of food other than spinach. Anyways... Chili is a true crowd-pleaser. It's full of practically every spice in your spice cabinet from mexican oregano to pasilla ground chile powder to ras-el-hanout to baharat blend. Honestly, chili is improved by pretty much any spice or spice blend. I just spent a minute scanning my brain for a spice that wouldn't do well in chili, and I didn't come up with a one. It's full of veggies and aromatics, but also is adaptable to any veggie you can find in your fridge; a good clean-out-the-fridge dish. I like to pack it with as many beans and legumes as I can, but I know some chili fans are bean-haters, so you can leave them out if you're some crazy Texan wranglin' around in the wild west, yapping about how y'all don't know beans about chili 'cause there ain't no beans in chili or whatever. I'm from New England. And we like beans. 
It just goes to show that even though our chilies may vary from bean to spice blend to topping to side, the fact remains that we all are united in the chili-loving. Because we-are-connected. What is there to dislike about a warm, spicy bowlful of goodness that's actually quite nutritious? Why, saying you don't like chili, is like saying you don't like hugs, or puppies, or laughing or sunlight. In fact, if someone tells you that they don't like chili, don't trust that person.

Feel free to do chili how you do chili. If this post does nothing more than inspire you to make chili in your own and completely different way, then purpose served. But just in case, here's my recipe with all of the fix-ins.

1 14 oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can small white beans, such as navy beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz can vegetarian refried beans
2 14 oz cans or 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 bouillon cube, I like better than chicken bouillon
2 cups water
1 12 oz bottle stout or beer of your choice
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 ribs celery, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
4 links seitan sausage, such as field roast chorizo, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
2 tablespoons good chili powder such as ancho chile powder
2 teaspoons onion powder

 seasoned cornbread:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal 
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup plain soy yogurt
1/3 cup stout beer or veggie broth
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon adobo spice
1/2 cup canola oil
2 cups unsweetened almond milk

cucumber sauce:
1/2 cup cashews, unsalted
1/2 cup plain soy yogurt
1 cup chopped cucumbers
1 cup fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
pinch chili flakes

For the chili:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Sauté the onion, celery, bell pepper, and carrot for about 7 minutes, until soft, and a lot of water has been released from the vegetables and they are beginning to brown. Add garlic and chorizo or seitan sausage and sauté 2-3 minutes. Now add the salt, pepper, adobo, paprika, oregano, thyme, basil, cumin, coriander, chili flakes, onion powder and chili powder, and stir to coat veggies and sausage in spice mixture. Stir for 1-2 minutes so that the spices toast a bit. Now add the beans (for refried, just scoop and dollop over the mixture), stout, diced tomatoes with their juices, bouillon and water. Stir very well to ensure refried bean chunks are dissolved and everything is well mixed. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. Taste for heat, salt, and seasoning.

For the cornbread:
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 12" cast-iron skillet with canola oil spray, or grease a 9 by13" pan. Mix together the cornmeal, flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, baking soda, rosemary and adobo seasoning. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and pour in almond milk, canola oil, apple cider vinegar, soy yogurt, and beer or veggie broth. Stir with a whisk until combined. 
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Let cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

For cucumber sauce:
Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until very smooth. Add a tablespoon or so of unsweetened almond milk if needed to thin out your sauce.

Serve bowls of chili alongside rosemary adobo cornbread, with a spoonful or drizzle of cucumber sauce on top of the chili.

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